Pressure to call Blair to Libya inquiry as MPs hear of oil and arms deal

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair

Lawyers campaigning for compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism have pressed for former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to be called before an inquiry on the matter.

An inquiry on the Libya-IRA link opened on Wednesday in Westminster, under the authority of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Lawyer Jason McCue, who was on the legal team which secured a civil action against Real IRA members for the Omagh Bomb, told MPs that Tony Blair had sacrificed the chance of IRA victims securing compensation in order to finalise oil and arms deals with Libya and to bring its former dictator Col Gaddafi “in from the cold”.

Referring to Mr Blair’s dealings with Gaddafi, he said: “What you see is a policy of arms oil and creating a partnership with Libya - Gaddafi - which puts justice issues and victims at a complete secondary place in everything.”

Asked whom he thought should be quizzed to get to the bottom of the matter, he listed Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, former Ambassador to Libya Sir Vincent Fean and other Foreign Office officials.

He said that Prime Minister Tony Blair and Col Gaddafi secured a deal in “a big tent” in the Libyan desert which involved executives from BP and also from a missile company.

And he cited an email leaked from Sir Vincent Kean, then ambassador to Libya, to Tony Blair just after he had left office as Prime Minister.

The email was “very clear” he said, in showing that Mr Blair was involved with President Bush regarding a deal with Libya to compensate US victims of Libyan terrorism.

However it also showed the UK deliberately refused to have UK victims of Libya-IRA terrorism included in the same US class action, as it should have, he said.

He added that it was “not incompetence but appeared to be very deliberate”.

In the US case, President Bush had wanted to sign oil deals with Gaddafi but Congress had insisted that he settled the compensation for US victims of Libya first – each of whom got £10m.

“We are looking now for parliament to act like congress,” Mr McCue said.

Asked later if Mr Blair would be called, committee chairman Laurence Robertson said: “We will discuss where we are going after we have seen the Foreign Commonwealth Office minister next week.”

He had previously indicated he would not be called.